As I sit here typing on my computer, I admit that I take technology for granted. I’d be lost without my Mac, it’s how I stay connected to the rest of the world.
Technology has changed our lives in so many positive ways and as a long time Trekkie, it’s not lost on me that some of the innovations that we have today were seen for the first time in Star Trek: The Original series.
Trek had the communicators allowing the crew to talk to each other via the ships communication system. This meant you had to be in range of the ship in order to be heard. Today we have the mobile phone and can make calls to anyone, anywhere in the world.
There are many more technological advancements we have that are based on Trek tech. One of my favourite pieces of Star Trek tech is the universal translator which allows people to communicate in different languages in real time. It was obviously a plot device to save us from having to witness back and forth translations but with over 7,139 languages in the world, a universal translator would be an amazing advancement. I was pleased to discover, that we have a version of that right here and now.
British engineer and music producer, Danny Manu invented Mymanu Clik, the world’s first truly wireless earbuds and a live voice translation system that enables users to call, text, read notifications and speak in 37 languages.
The idea is that you speak in one language and another person hears what you say in their own tongue, either via their own earbuds or via the MyManu smartphone app that Danny also developed.
The translation system was tested across Europe and China with the world’s largest hotel chains for two years. Thanks to the successful pilots, the technology has now been implemented by many other international businesses.
In 2020 the translation system launched on IOs and Android through a standalone application allowing for a full translation of multiple languages in group messages so that businesses could keep their international business running during the pandemic.
Just like computers, the internet and mobile phones, this is an amazing communications breakthrough. The NASA website says that Star Trek’s universal translator was “a preposterous shortcut to keep the plot from faltering” and dismissed the possibility of such an invention ever being built. Surely, with this Danny Manu’s invention, we are getting there.
Obviously, someone has to learn the languages and do the translating. As we saw in Star Trek: Enterprise, the universal translator was still in its infancy and communications officer and linguist Hoshi Sato, who could speak more than 40 languages was a big help in programming it to speak Klingon and other languages. Manu’s invention already translates 37 languages; only another 7,102 to go.
What do you think? Are we getting there?